Each year the National Association of Realtors puts out an annual survey of homebuyers and sellers. It shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers are using to find a home. This is a 131 questionnaire mail to a random sample of about 145,000 consumers who purchased a home between July 2016 and June 2017.
In 2016, first-time homebuyers constituted 32% of the market. This was the lowest participation rate by first-time buyers since 1987. This year, 2017, the first-time buyer rate was 34%.
Here are some of the most important statistics that the survey provided.
86% of homebuyers said that they use the Internet frequently during the home search process. Compare that to just 42% in 2003. 55% used a mobile or tablet device to search for homes, which is a new and growing phenomenon as just two years ago it was 41%. In 2015 68% of buyers said they frequently relied on the real estate agent for the information. Homebuyers are doing their homework and finding out the information on their own making them more informed during the home buying process.
42% of buyers use the Internet as their first step in the home search process. 17% contacted a real estate agent first, 8% of homebuyers begin the process by going directly to a bank or mortgage company, and 6% began their search just driving through neighborhoods.
Half of the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyers’ previous residence.
Homebuyers use multiple sources of information in the process but the most useful sources were online websites at 95%. Real estate agents come in at 89% and mobile or tablet applications have replaced yard signs as the third most useful source of information, even though 40% of buyers said that yard signs are still one of their main sources of information. And, because it’s a sign of the times, only 15% of homebuyers said that they used newspaper ads as their information source. Just 2% gathered their information from the television.
But, searching for homes and finding the home of your dreams are two different things. 49% of buyers found the home they purchased on the Internet and 88% of those who use the Internet purchase their home through a real estate agent.
In 2001, 40% of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent and only 8% found their home on the Internet.
Times have certainly changed. Sellers need to be more mobile friendly when it comes to advertising their homes and trust that their real estate agent is using all the resources necessary to find the right buyer.
Will real estate agents ever completely go away? I highly doubt it, as the real estate purchase can be a complicated transaction, one best facilitated by a licensed expert.